Broccoli and chickpeas in coconut curry sauce

Broccoli chickpea coconut curry

Broccoli chickpea coconut curry

Well! I’ve finally finished Brothers Karamazov, and to celebrate we’re going to have a party. I sent Malcolm to the store and I told him to tell the shopkeeper that Claire sends her greetings, “and will be there directly…. But listen, listen, tell them to have champagne, three dozen bottles, ready before I come, and packed as it was to take to Mokroe. I took four dozen with me then…they know all about it, don’t you trouble…Stay, listen; tell them to put in cheese, Strasburg pies, smoked fish, ham, caviare, and everything, everything they’ve got, up to a hundred roubles, or a hundred and twenty as before…. But wait: don’t let them forget dessert, sweets, pears, watermelons, two or three or four — no, one melon’s enough, and chocolate, candy, toffee, fondants;” That being vegetarian versions of smoked fish and ham, of course! And David said I have to write a twenty page paper on the book, so I’ll share that here, shall I? Ready? Do you have your glass of tea and plate of salted fish and cherry jam? Let’s begin! I’m kidding, of course! No scholarly paper. However, I read that Dostoyevsky had intended to write a sequel about the life of Alyosha, but he died before he had the chance. So I’ve decided to take it upon myself to complete the task. A bit of Karamazov fan fiction, if you will. Of course, we’re going to sex it up a bit for our modern audience. No tortured discussions about spirituality or morality – there’s just no market for that these days. Instead, it’s all going to go like this… Lise, of course, is a vampire. Weak, pale, pretty and wicked, what else could she be? But she’s one of those sparkly vampires. And she bites Alyosha, and then dresses him like this, “I should like you to have a dark blue velvet coat, a white pique waistcoat, and a soft grey felt hat….” And then Alyosha, instead of wandering around trying to solve everybody’s problems and worrying for their souls, will solve all their problems by relieving them of their souls, and turning them, too, into sparkly vampires. Meanwhile, Dmitri’s attempt at escape from prison (which will be described in nail-bitingly extensive detail) will fail, and he’ll be sent to Siberia in exile. But this won’t be a dull, workaday work camp kind of story. Oh no! It will be subtitled Survivor: Siberia, and will tell the tale of a bevy of lordly types roughing it in a grand competition in the frozen wastes of Siberia. They’ll be voted out of exile one at a time, until the winner remains alone. Sadly, he’ll still be alone in exile for twenty years, which will be dull, so we’ll forget all about him. And Ivan, broody young Ivan, will provide the comic relief, as he sets up an apartment with his pesky devil, and they bicker humorously about whether or not either of them exists! Until, of course, he’s turned into a vampire by Lise and then… Well, I confess I haven’t figured out how to end it yet. Something big! Something thrilling! Leave them wanting more! Yes. Actually, I feel a little irreverent for speaking of Brothers Karamazov in this way! It touched me very deeply, and gave me much to think about, and I feel such genuine affection for Dmitri, with his wild impulsive ways and his generous heart, Ivan, with his oddly hopeful despairing cynicism, and, of course sweet, honest, strong Alyosha.

So, broccoli, chickpeas and corn in a curried coconut sauce. This was delicious! And every member of the family liked it and ate several helpings, and I ate the leftovers cold before bed one night. It struck me that the mix of ingredients and spices was a little odd, but I liked them all together. It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and quite savory all at once. We ate it over basmati rice, and that was nice!

Here’s Saint Behind the Glass by Los Lobos (from Nacho Libre), because it seems to fit!

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Chickpea stew with tomatoes, chard and castelvetrano olives

Chickpea, chard, castelvetrano stew

Isaac wants a baby orangutan for a pet, and so do I. Actually he just asked if I’d rather have an elephant, and I think I might rather. He’ll get the orangutan, and I’ll get the elephant. So we’re going to head down to the local animal shelter and see if we can find one of each. He’s home sort-of-sick from school, and watching a show about orphaned orangutans and elephants. They’re raised by humans and then returned to the wild. They’re all so beautiful you could cry! The shot of a herd of baby elephants, red with the dusty earth, running, eager, giant ears held high, following people with soccer balls, threw me for a loop. A loop, I tell you! The film centers on the two women that run the retreats. Rightfully so, I suppose, they’ve given their lives and probably lots of their money to these animals. David and I were thinking it would be interesting to see a movie about the people that work there, and care for the animals every day, as well. Orphaned animals can’t sleep alone. In the wild they cuddle with their mothers, and in this strange environment they have too many bad memories of why they became orphaned animals. There’s a shot of a man trying to sleep, with a baby elephant cavorting all around him. I well remember days of trying to cuddle a toddler to sleep. Can you imagine if the toddler weighed several hundred pounds?! And a scene with a woman cuddling a tiny baby orangutan, singing to him, and rubbing his tummy, as he frowns and struggles to keep his eyes open – well it kills me. I wonder what the lives of these people are like. Do they have children of their own? What strange hours they must work. What a demanding but rewarding job it must be! What kind of dreams do you have when you care for orphaned animals all day and night?

We’re back to stew season, here at The Ordinary! The evenings are drawing in, and it’s time for warm saucy meals. This particular stew extends the bridge between summer and fall. It’s full of fresh tomatoes and basil, chard from the farm, and a sweet roasted red pepper. And it has castelvetrano olives, which I love so much. They’re lovely and bright and juicy, and they’re very pretty with the tomatoes. I had mine with bulgarian feta crumbled on top, but if you leave that (and the bit of butter) out, you have a good vegan meal. Serve it with a salad and a loaf of crispy bread, and you’re golden.

Here’s Elephant Gun by Beirut. It’s a beautiful song, but it’s a sad story of elephant hunting, and it’s why these baby elephants are orphans.

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Moroccan spiced chickpea, tomato and pepper stew & couscous, & semolina bread

Morrocan chickpea stew

Malcolm wanted to go to the river. Isaac didn’t. It’s not the first time this has happened. After another epic struggle, we persuaded Isaac to walk down with us. As we walked, Malcolm declared that he was an outdoors swimming animal, and Isaac was an indoors curl-up-in-a-nest-of-fur-and-feathers animal. We laughed, cause it’s funny and it’s sort of true. But I felt uneasy. We try very hard not to label the boys a certain way. Not to say… Malcolm is a man who does this, and Isaac is a man who does that; or Malcolm’s good at this, and Isaac’s good at that. Because when somebody decides that you are a certain way, you can get stuck. I find it interesting, and a little frightening, how readily people take to a certain description of themselves. The boys like being defined in certain ways. We all do…everything’s such a confusing muddle, and it makes it easier if you have a semi-solid notion of yourself from which to make sense of it all. As an example…Malcolm is the boy who will try any food, Isaac is the boy who refuses to taste a thing. This is a thing that’s been decided, and Isaac is almost proud of it. But it’s just not true! In fact, I’d go even farther to say that the idea that children like bland, pale foods, and we should start out feeding them tasteless things, and trick them into eating anything else, is also, just not true. We fed tiny Malcolm oatmeal and yogurt and bananas. Then, one day, on a whim, we gave him orzo with pesto on it. Who turned the lights on? Flavor! Strong, sharp flavor! (Tiny little pasta that squishes through your fingers and drives the dog crazy when you scatter it ont the floor!) I think all children like strong flavors – Isaac likes olives and goat cheese – he always has. They both love capers, which they call flavor dynamites. We just have to give them a chance to try these things! Tapenade baby food, anyone?

Isaac eats a chickpea

So when I made this Moroccan-spiced chickpea stew, Isaac refused to try it, because that’s what he does. Then I gave him a chickpea. He ate that, and helped himself to more. I gave him an olive. He ate that, and spooned a few more onto his plate. By the time the rest of us had left the table, I looked out the window and saw that he’d pulled the whole serving plate toward him, and was eating everything together, hungrily. So we’ll take Isaac swimming, and Malcolm will curl up on the couch with a good book.

The stew was really tasty, and it’s a good way to use up all your tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers, if you’re sick and tired of ratatouille. It’s not authentically Moroccan-spiced, of course. It’s just that it’s a pleasing mixture of savory spices and herbs, and “sweet” spices and herbs. And the bread! Well, I’d been reading fascinating accounts of Moroccan flatbread, that generally contain semolina, and are folded into all sorts of beautiful fashions. I decided to play around with these ideas, but in one big loaf. It turned out very nice! With a lovely texture and flavor – crumbly, chewy, and satisfying. If you don’t feel like doing all the crazy folding, you could just shape it into a nice round, and leave it at that.

Here’s Peter Tosh’s beautiful I Am that I Am.

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Tacos with chickpeas, black beans and pumpkinseed basil sauce

Chickpea & black bean tacos with pumpkinseed basil sauce

I’ve moaned many times about the death of American Independent cinema. The way I see it, the thrilling golden era of the seventies and eighties (Jarmusch! Lee! Sayles! Hartley!) gave way to an era of derivative, overblown hollywood-wannabes. American independent cinema is dead – killed off by two clever young men who made flashy little hollywood movies, and by the generation of filmmakers following them, whose knowledge of film history went back no farther than these clever young men. Independent filmmaking became an industry – the films were products, the filmmakers wanted to be stars. But the films were like fast food, at once too much and too little – insubstantial and unsatisfying. Rather than carry on with this cantankerous whinge, I’ll tell you that lately I’ve been very excited to discover that American independent cinema is alive and well – it’s just not living in North America.

We’ve watched a number of films lately from Latin America that give me so much hope – engagingly human, unforgettable, and inspiring. Despite being low-budget, and not containing celebrities, each of them achieve some level of perfection of production that I find thrilling. Acting, camera work, music, writing – all carefully combine to make films that glow on the screen, and in your memory. All of the films share a quality that made them especially dear to me. They are ordinary – stories of ordinary people, of their day-to-day-life, of the food they make, their mundane jobs, but they are so beautifully presented that they become extraordinary and compelling. Like a well-made meal, the films are simple, but the ingredients are exactly as they should be, and they’re sustaining and memorable.

I’ll tell you about a few! Duck Season has become one of my favorite films of all time. It’s the first feature by director Fernando Eimbcke, and it tells the story of two boys in a high-rise in Mexico. It’s Sunday, they’re stuck in their apartment, and the power is out. It’s a really ecstatic film, and we watched it twice in two days!

From Brazil, we have The Year My Parents Went on Vacation, by director Cao Hamburger, about a boy who goes to stay with his grandfather and develops an unlikely friendship with his neighbor. A perfect example of how attention to every detail of production can make a simple film resonate.

I’ve already mentioned Adrian Biniez’ Gigante, from Uraguay, because it inspired me to make pizza with faina! A lovely movie with an underwater glow about the lighting and the pacing. And Whisky, a disarmingly dry, touching, and funny movie from Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll. The same directors made 25 Watts, a day in the life of three friends that’s low key, funny, thoughtful, and that you’ll think about long after you’ve seen it.

One more! From Argentina, the tale of a housekeeper and her over-bearing employer – Live in Maid, by Jorge Gaggero. It’s a quiet film, but the small telling details, which examine the routines that shape these two women’s lives, make them alive for us. The film is a very human and immediate way of describing what’s happening in the larger world of politics and economics.

All of these films are like little gems – it’s so wonderful to discover them. They allow you to travel to another part of the world, and give you such an intimate glimpse of the people that live there, and do so with such generosity, humor, and subtlety, that you feel fortunate to spend some with them.

Your song for today is from Lake Tahoe, another remarkable movie by Fernando Eimbcke. The song is La Lloroncita by Los Parientes de Playa Vicente, and it’s gorgeous.

And your meal for today is tacos made with black beans, chickpeas, yellow squash and corn. Everything is combined in a sauce of pumpkinseeds and fresh basil – a sort of pumpkinseed pesto, but lighter. We ate it with warm tortillas, chopped tomatoes, avocado, romaine, and grated sharp cheddar. I have to admit that it’s a little funny-looking (David laughed when I brought it to the table) but look beyond that! Because it tastes very good! Sweet, savory, a little smoky, a little spicy.

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Zucchini, chickpeas & pinenuts/ Zucchini, coconut & cashews

Zucchini, cashews

We watched the Wimbledon final at work, with the sound down. I was surprised and moved by Andy Murray’s tears, possibly more so because I couldn’t hear what he was saying. And I felt a little bad for Federer, he looked so apologetic. I think that’s how I’d be. I’m not competitive at all. My idea of a fun game of tennis is hitting the ball back and forth to each other for as long as possible. I don’t really like to beat people at anything – especially if I like them, which, let’s face it, is usually the case when you’re playing a game with someone. I let my kids win at races and board games. I know there’s a school of parenting that insists I’m setting up unrealistic expectations for them, but I’m not too worried about it. The world will knock them down soon enough, sadly. And, increasingly, I’m not letting them win! The few times in my life I’ve felt myself get all competitive, it felt horrible. I recognized that it was coming from insecurity or envy, and I said to myself, “what the hell, self! Cut it out!” It’s strange to think about how much competition is a part of our lives, as Americans. The assumptions about human nature inherent in setting up such a system bewilder me a little. But I’m okay watching from outside of it all, with the sound down.

Last night we sat in our yard in the evening, and made a fire. The boys dashed around catching fireflies. Malcolm twirled Isaac around at arm’s length (by the fire! So dangerous!), and he came flying into my lap. I thought he’d be hot and sweaty from all the mad running, but he was as soft and cool as the dusk. One of the boys said, “I wonder who turned firefly-catching into a sport?” I said, “Ah, yes, the firefly catch, I saw that in the olympic trials last week.” And David said, “No…the firefly toss. Can you imagine what a quiet, gentle sport that would be?” People standing near each other, in the gloaming with their hands in the air, waiting for the firefly to climb to the fingertips and take off into the night, at their own twirly dreamy pace. I love that idea!

What!? Talking about fireflies again! What!? More zucchini recipes!?! Haven’t we just done all that? Yes. Yes we have, people, this is summer!! The first zucchini recipe we ate as a side dish, but it would be good as a meal over rice. It was very quick and simple, like most good zucchini recipes. It involved sauteeing the zucchini with some frozen peas. We added a little cumin and ginger. And then we tossed the lot with cashews, sweetened flaked coconut, and, lime, and fresh basil. Ta da!! The second zucchini recipe is actually a pasta dish. Despite being vegetarian, we don’t eat pasta very often. I’m drawn to things with more intensity of flavor. The boys love it, though, so I’ll make pasta, and I’ll eat the sauce as a sort of soup or stew. Anyway – this pasta dish. We made orchiette, and then we made a summery mix of quickly cooked zucchini, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, fresh basil, and pine nuts. Simple, substantial, and super.

Zucchini, chickpea, pine nut

Here’s Belle and Sebastian with Stars of Track and Field. I like how someone became a runner simply to feel the city air rush past their body.
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Zucchini chickpea kofta

Zucchini & chickpea kofta

Malcolm and I were walking the hot streets of town the other day when we came across a basket of GI Joe figures in front of an antique store. It made me think of the movie Marwencol. It’s a fascinating, absorbing documentary – the kind you think about for a long while after you’ve seen it. I couldn’t get it out of my mind, yesterday, and yesterday being independence day, the story of Mark Hogancamp became, in my melting little brain, a sort of allegory for America’s struggle for independence. In the face of violent intolerance, Hogancamp created his own country, with its own rules. The country, Marwencol, is hopeful, frightening, imperfect and evolving, and it’s the place where Hogancamp can escape from the physical and emotional reality of who he is, to be a different, better version of himself. And to pursue the justice that eludes him in the old world – the real world. He’s a true eccentric, just as the people that first came to America must have been, and the people that created our country, and forged a path out west, surely were. It’s the creativity and passion attached to his eccentricity that make his new world possible. And the story of the new world is beautiful and hopeful, but it’s also violent and disturbing at times. Of course, the story of Independence Day is the struggle for freedom, just as the story of Marwencol is Hogancamp’s quest for freedom from who he is and from all that he’s lost. David found a remarkable version of Nina Simone’s I Wish I Knew How it Feels to Be Free. She talks about what freedom means. She says it’s freedom from fear, it’s a new way of seeing something. There’s a line in the song in which she says that freedom means feeling a “little less like me.” She’d learn to fly, and she’d look down and see herself, and she wouldn’t know herself. She’d have new hands, new vision. She tells us that the Bible says be transformed by the renewal of your mind. God, she’s brilliant – she makes me speechless. But this is what I was thinking about on the 4th of July – eccentricity, creativity, the freedom to create a world for yourself and reinvent yourself. A new way of looking, and of seeing.

Speaking of eccentric! Speaking of yankee ingenuity! I envisioned this zucchini fritters with chickpea flour. They were all out of chickpea flour at the grocery store. I pretended to be a stubborn child, who wouldn’t leave the aisle till I got chickpea flour, the boys pretended to be stern parents. We all had a giggle. And I went home and made these croquettes with mashed up chickpeas. Which might even have had a better flavor, and a lighter, more pleasing texture. We ate these with pita bread, tomatoes chopped with mozzarella and basil, lots of fresh lettuce from the CSA and pecan tarragon sauce. You could use any kind of sauce you like, though. Something with tahini would probably work well! I seasoned these with sesame seeds, thyme, and sumac (zatar, baby!) All-in-all a nice summer meal.

Here’s that remarkable version of I Wish I Knew How it Feels to be Free.

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Chard, chickpea, and olive tart (with a citrus-quince glaze)

Chickpea & olive tart

Well, I was a little cranky yesterday! I had a small tantrum because we couldn’t find some place we used to go bird watching. I yelled at the boys everywhere we went. I yelled at them for making me yell at them. I yelled at them as we bought them giant cookies. And they weren’t being bad! They were happy, and noisy, and getting along with each other. But Isaac has this squeal – it’s very high-pitched, and it goes right through you. He resorts to it whether he’s very happy, indignant, or actually hurt. It signals panic either way. And Malcolm was being sweet and good, but why can’t he just walk? Why must he climb walls, jump off benches, press Isaac’s shriek & giggle buttons? Why! By evening-time I had to sit in the back yard and watch squirrels to try to rid myself of my cranky-induced headache. But I wouldn’t tell anybody about that! I’d talk about the good things – the Savory Spice shop we went to, which was completely wonderful! How sweet it was to see the boys excited about smelling all the spices! The beautiful place we found for a walk! The tart that I made for dinner, which I had literally dreamed of, which was a little odd, and which I might not have made if it wasn’t my birthday! Everybody being together on a beautiful day! How I got a beautiful new golden-amber bakelite watch and some perfectly claire-y pens and a blank notebook, which is the most inspiring thing ever! (From Modern Love)

I started watching a Masterpiece Theater version of The Portrait of Dorian Gray the other day, while I was exercising. (I jump around the living room holding two cans of beans while I catch up with The Daily Show on the computer. Isaac thinks this is hilarious! “You’re holding two cans of beans!!”) I love late Victorian novels – they’re so well-crafted and beautifully novelly. It was pretty well-done. It had Prince Caspian in it, and Mr. Darcy! And some guy named Ben who was familiar. It was a little dark and gloomy for early-morning-exercise-viewing. It had a lot of shocking Victorian nudity. (Masterpiece Theater wasn’t like that when I was a lass! When I was a lass, characters from televised versions of literary classics had the decency to keep their oddly-eighties-looking costumes on, thank you very much!!) When I thought about how cranky I was yesterday, but how I wouldn’t write about that part of the day, I had an idea for a modern version of Dorian Gray. What if there was somebody who had one of those mommy-blogs, or an advice column about parenting. What if they talked about their own lives in glowing, unrealistic terms. And then…all of the bad stuff they don’t write about manifests itself doubly in their real lives, until they all descend into a spiralling vortex of depravity and despair!! Bom bom bommmmmmmmmm.

So! This tart! I was quite excited about it. I had thought of having a tart with a base of chard and goat cheese and fresh basil, all mixed together till smooth and bright green. This would be poured into a crust which contained some zesty lemon zest and white pepper. And it would all be topped with chickpeas and olives, which would become, as it were, roasted, as they cooked. And poured over the whole thing would be a provocative glaze of quince jelly, lemon & lime zest, and lemon and lime juice, for a sweet/tart surprise. It was surprising, and I thought it was quite good – very summery. I mixed some sumac and smoked paprika in with the chickpeas, because I had just bought them at the savory spice store, and I was little-kid-excited about it. Isaac said he tasted three layers of flavor, which I thought was very bright and perceptive for a six-year-old.

I also roasted some potatoes, and we had them with lots of pepper and my new alderwood-smoked sea salt. (SMOKED SEA SALT!!) it was delicious!!

Here’s Bob Marley singing Corner Stone (a rare acoustic version!) I’ve been listening to this a lot lately, driving around, getting lost looking for bird watching places. I love it so much!
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Black quinoa-chickpea kofta in creamy cashew-lettuce sauce

Black quinoa kofta

Isaac loves to draw. When he sees something that interests him – in a book, or a movie, or museum exhibit – he needs to get to a pencil and paper as soon as possible to draw his own version of it. He can draw happily for long periods of time. Completely rapt, tongue out like Charlie Brown, bent over the paper, making sound effects to accompany his drawing. His style is full of movement and energy. He’s a very confident artist. When he sets out to draw something, he doesn’t worry that it won’t come out the way he pictures it in his head. He doesn’t cripple himself with unrealistic expectations. He wants to draw something, he draws it, and he’s always happy with it. It’s a lesson for us all! And it can be found in chapter 4 of my upcoming series of soon-to-be-bestelling self-help books called, Life Lessons from Isaac: Learning to Live Like a 6-year-old. Chapter 3 suggests that if you don’t get what you want, you like on the floor, complaining in an indignant, incomprehensible, ascending stream of words, until the pitch gets so high that everyone around you fears that their head will explode and gives you whatever you ask for to make you stop. Try it at work!! Malcolm loves to draw, too, but he’s more self-doubting. He gets frustrated and impatient if it doesn’t look like he imagines it, or if it takes too long. He’s got a few drawings he’s happy with, and they’ve become his trademark drawings. His graffiti tags. One of my favorites is this owl.

The other day, Isaac went to the fleamarket with his aunts and his grandmother. He found five thimbles.

The incredibly talented Aunt Christy took this picture

He brought them home and invented “thimble man.”

Thimbleman

I love this drawing! It’s so expressive. And thimbleman’s thimbles have magical powers, like lazers, water, super-punch, and I can’t remember the others, even though Isaac patiently explained it all to me twice.

And that night for dinner, Isaac ate quinoa kofta!! The kid doesn’t like much, but he likes Indian food. And olives. And other very strong-tasting items. Won’t touch a banana, but he’ll stuff himself silly on punjabi mix. He likes creamy curried sauces, which the boys call “yellow stuff.” I made this sauce out of cashews, tomatoes, and red leaf lettuce. The lettuce gives it a nice little sweet-bitter bite. The sauce is very smooth and creamy, but there’s no cream in it. And the quinoa kofta, made from leftover black quinoa, are lovely and crunchy – from being roasted in olive oil, and from the naturally crunchy crunch of black quinoa!! I served them in their sauce over basmati rice.

Isaac says this is his favorite song. It’s K’naan’s 15 Minutes Away.
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Roasted beet hummus with cumin, paprika & lime

Roasted beet hummus

Quite a few years ago, David and I took a feature film to the Independent Feature Film Market in NYC. Good times! Wandering around the area of New York that surrounds the Angelika, watching strange films during the day. Seeing my film at the Angelika. It’s an ideal week, in a lot of ways. Interesting, exciting, but strangely discouraging as well. I know, it’s a market, it says so right there in the title, but it was depressing that the entire focus of everybody’s frantic energy was selling selling selling. We had very few conversations about the films themselves – about their ideas or aesthetics. It felt like the death of thoughtful American independent film. The quality of the films suffered for it – they were made to be sold. How many knock-off Tarantino films can you sit through (when honestly his films aren’t that original in the first place, are they?) Sorry, I can get very boring and whiny on the subject of American Indies – I’m such a cranky old lady. As I was saying, it was a delightful week, in many ways. Days spent wandering around New York with David are always good days. One evening, physically and emotionally tuckered out, we wandered into a bar that used to be across the street from the Angelika. Match. It was nice inside, warm and glowy. We ordered red wine, hummus and french fries. Rarely has a meal seemed so perfect. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, but when you eat it you feel blissful, and you remember it long afterwards. Since then, it’s become a tradition, when we spend a day in the city, we do a lot of wandering and walking, and we always find a place to have red wine, hummus, and french fries.

Yesterday I got home from work quite tired, and we decided to have a simple meal – so I oven roasted some fries, and made some roasted beet hummus with smoked paprika, cumin, lime and fresh basil, and we had a big salad of farm greens, apples, hazelnuts and goat cheese. Perfect.

Here’s The Selecter and Dave Barker with What a Confusion.

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Kale & chickpeas with orange and tarragon

kale chickpeas and tarragon

Today is our anniversary! David and I have been married sixteen years. It’s gone so fast! These years have become such a long, strong part of my memory, of my happiness, of my life – of who we are. I want to make something special for dinner tonight, and I’ve been thinking about memorable meals we’ve had. The first meal we ever ate together, David made for me – ravioli, red sauce, garlic bread and wine pilfered from his roommates. Still one of the pleasantest meals I’ve ever had! In our courting days we used to go on hikes and take picnics. We always brought bread, peanut butter, dark chocolate and fruit – oranges and apples. What an unlikely, perfect combination of flavors! We brought wine hidden in snapple bottles. The first time we’d ever visited the town where we now live, we went out to dinner on my birthday. I told the waiter, “I’m a vegetarian,” and David said, “So am I.” And that was that – no big announcement, he’d just quietly become a vegetarian, and that’s how we’ve continued our lives together. For a long time we’d share the same plate. We’d make a big mess of pasta or rice and beans and vegetables, and pile it on one big deep plate. And these days I feel grateful every night to live with a man who will happily eat all of the strange food I put on the table! Anybody who likes to cook will know that making food to share with people that you love is what it’s all about. I’m so happy to have somebody to share food with, and listen to music with, to watch films with, to look for birds with, to raise children with, to walk with, to talk with.

I’ll make something more special tonight, but in the meantime, here’s a dish that reminds me of a special meal we had on vacation long ago. We used to go to upstate New York every autumn, and we’d eat at a restaurant called The 1819 House. It was just our kind of place. They served something they called vegetarian paella, and we’ve been having different versions of it ever since. Here’s one version, which I call…vegetarian paella. And this new version has kale, chickpeas, artichoke hearts and olives, in a sweet/salty broth made with white wine, orange juice and tarragon. All of the flavors blend nicely, so you can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. As David said, you don’t really taste the orange, you just taste a sunny, summery flavor.

Here’s a version of Bob Marley’s Mellow Mood, which is our song!
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